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Barmby-on-the-Marsh Village Barrage
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Quote of the day No 185
Monday 22 September 2014
Before canal tunnels were needed, the art had been learned in mining and mine drainage. With only that geological knowledge which a few trial borings could give them, engineers worked largely on hit or miss, and sometimes they missed. The first task was to stake out over the hill an exactly straight line, to mark the course of the tunnel. Then, because tunnelling would almost certainly reveal springs of water, a stream had to be found below the proposed line, and a channel made from it to a point below the mouth of the tunnel. Then a start would be made on driving a separate small drainage heading beneath the actual line. Should water be found during excavation, a side-heading would be driven towards its source to carry the water into the heading below the tunnel works, and so away to the stream.
Simultaneously with driving the heading, shafts about 8 ft in diameter and 150 yd apart would be dug from the surface of the hill above to intersect the centre of the main tunnel line. These shafts were often dug after the manner of wells, by steining the shaft—that is, building a few feet of brickwork upon a curb, and then excavating from underneath the curb and letting the steining sink, building fresh brickwork on it as it did so. If strong springs were struck, steam pumping engines might have to be used, as at Standedge. Excavated material could be drawn up the shafts by horse gins, and bricks for lining, wooden centres, and other things needed by the tunnellers, sent down. Such a shaft also provided ventilation to the workings, sails being erected at the top to direct the wind downwards, and the shaft being divided to provide both up and down draughts. Updraught could be helped by a fire lit underneath one half of the shaft.
Charles Hadfield - The Canal Age
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